The Savoy Company Returns to Philly with THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE

by Patricia Bradford

What do you get when you add a handsome apprentice pirate and a major-general’s beautiful daughter, divide by a swashbuckling pirate king and a piratical maid of all work, and then multiply by a band of tender-hearted pirates, a comical major-general, and a police sergeant who sings and dances? You get poetry and music in motion belonging to THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, OR, THE SLAVE OF DUTY where everyone loves their queen.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s dazzling THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, OR, THE SLAVE OF DUTY is taking the Delaware Valley by storm! Absent from Center City since 2011, The Savoy Company will sail up the Delaware River for its return to Philadelphia’s South Broad Street and will present three performances of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on May 13th (8 pm) and 14th (2 pm and 8 pm). The show will be fully staged with a professionally designed set, beautiful costumes, and a professional orchestra.

This much-beloved comic opera is filled with waggish pirates, blundering policemen, and ludicrous adventures. It culminates with a most brilliant paradox, all accompanied by Gilbert’s pin-sharp wit and Sullivan’s scintillating score filled with beautiful melodies and toe-tapping tunes. THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE features some of Gilbert and Sullivan’s best loved songs including “I am a Pirate King”, “Poor Wandering One”, “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General”, and “When the Foeman Bares his Steel.” Performances will benefit CAPA (the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts).

Passion and poetry radiate from the talented cast. Alize Rozsnyai and Joshua Glassman portray the star crossed young lovers Mabel, daughter of the Major-General, and Frederic, the apprentice pirate. Ethan Cadoff is the blustery Major-General Stanley. Steve Underwood is the swashbuckling Pirate King, with Mark Baron playing his loyal lieutenant, Samuel. Sharon Rose Derstine is Ruth, the piratical maid of all work. Guillermo L. Bosch lends his deep bass to the role of the Sergeant of Police with Greg Spurgeon as Deputy to Sergeant. Other beautiful daughters of the Major General include Rachel Sigman as Edith, Whitney Connelly as Kate, and Carly Elizabeth Linder as Isabel.

The Savoy Company’s production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE promises to be a delightful adventure for audiences of all ages. Savoy’s onstage members, fill out the chorus as additional daughters of the Major-General, pirates, and policemen. Savoy’s backstage members, having built the set, are responsible for the technical and physical details during live performances.

Bill Kiesling returns as Stage Director for his second season. Bill has a fond familiarity with Gilbert and Sullivan operettas (having met his wife Marta in a production of Iolanthe). Additionally, Bill has a passion for using theater as a means to build “community”. Bill reflects, “I am grateful for this wonderful opportunity to work with The Savoy Company to honor its history and to work as part of a team to build a ‘community’ for Savoy’s future.”

Peter Hilliard returns as Musical Director for his fourth season. Peter states, “THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE is Gilbert and Sullivan’s American Operetta. They wrote it to cater to American tastes, the first production was on Broadway and a lot of it was written in New York. It’s funny, tuneful, irreverent, and silly. It makes perfect sense that it’s one of their most popular works.”

TICKETS for the Suzanne Roberts Theatre: Individual tickets for The Pirates of Penzance are priced at $45 per person for performances at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (480 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146). Handicap seating is available. Visit to select your seats and to purchase tickets online. Kindly credit your purchase to the Savoy member of your choice.

A Philadelphia tradition supporting local charitable organizations since its founding in 1901, The Savoy Company is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization. The Savoy Company is the oldest amateur theater company in the world dedicated solely to the production of the 13 surviving immortal operas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

In 1901 a young Philadelphia doctor named Alfred Reginald Allen, a medical school graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, having witnessed Gilbert and Sullivan works in England, decided that the operas should be produced in Philadelphia in the “original” manner. Allen was convinced that the G&S operas heretofore produced in the United States had been ruined by “modernization, colloquial interpolation, and improvements.”

Dr. Allen, along with his sister and one of her friends, recruited a group of local people to perform a “true” Gilbert and Sullivan show. The group rehearsed and then presented Trial By Jury at the Merion Cricket Club, in Haverford, PA, on May 4, 1901 to great acclaim. The production was such a huge success that the original conspirators were moved to form a permanent organization, known as ‘The Savoy Operas’.

The young organization presented successfully the double bill of Trial By Jury and The Sorcerer on December 6 and 7, 1901 at St. James Hall and two weeks later reprised the performances at the Manheim (Germantown) Cricket Club. A unique and noble tradition had been born.

As it is known today, the all-volunteer Savoy Company presents the best known Gilbert and Sullivan operettas in a 12-year cycle, including blockbusters like H.M.S. Pinafore (“I’m Called Little Buttercup”), The Mikado (“I’ve Got a Little List”) and The Pirates of Penzance (“I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General”). In 2014 the Company presented Trial By Jury (“When I, Goof Friends, Was Called to the Bar”) and The Sorcerer (“My Name is John Wellington Wells”). In 2015 the Company presented Patience, or, Bunthorne’s Bride (“Am I alone and unobserved?”).

Since the beginning The Savoy Company, itself a non-profit, has dedicated proceeds to local charities. The Savoy Company donates a portion of the proceeds from its performances to the Alfred Reginald Allen Memorial Fund of the University of Pennsylvania. Established by Savoy in 1921 in memory of the founder, the fund supports the acquisition of books and scores for the university’s Otto E. Albrecht Music Library.

Members of Savoy help run the all-volunteer Company by helping on committees and other projects. Working and performing together results in lifelong friendships! The Company’s volunteer cast has included such luminaries as Hollywood film star Nelson Eddy, Metropolitan Opera soprano Margaret Harshaw, Wagnerian bass-baritone James Pease, and Broadway star Wilbur Evans.

Theater/Organization THE SAVOY COMPANY
Theater/Organization Website:

Theater/Organization Address: P.O. Box 59150 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102-9150 (Map It)
Theater/Organization Phone: (215) 735-7161

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